updated 10/7/2008 12:10:35 PM ET 2008-10-07T16:10:35

Guests: Chris Hayes, Nate Silver, Clarence Page

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Palin failin', campaign bailin'. The governor adds first Bill Ayers, and today, Jeremiah Wright to her list of new topics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN, ® VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our opponent is somebody who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists that targeted their own country.

(CROWD BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And this is today's live McCain-Palin warm-up act, the local sheriff at Estero, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE SCOTT, LEE COUNTY SHERIFF: On November 4th, let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

SCOTT: Wondering what happened and we will make something happen with that tug team, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin the next vice president and president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: The final word, of course, comes from Senator McCain, himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sooner or later, people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads, you don't have a vision for the future or you're running to articulate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Or, you are running from it. The Republicans are trying to change the topic as the economy today goes further into the toilet. Yet even the conservative NBC map shows Obama now up by 90 at least Electoral College votes. With McCain about to have to answer at tomorrow's debate for replacing his campaign with one giant ethical dumpster dive. Worsts: Two more conservative heavy breathers explain why the far right really likes Governor Palin. And invoking Bill Ayers while her own husband was a member of a political party that wanted Alaska to succeed, you know, like in the Civil War; invoking Jeremiah Wright when her own pastor called a woman a witch and hunted her out of town.Tonight, a Special Comment of a different kind, the governor of Alaska, not knowing the biblical passage about hockey moms livin' in glass rinks not throwin' stones.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

(on camera): Good evening. This is Monday, October 6th, 29 days until the 2008 presidential election.

The same candidate whose campaign manager on September 1st, at the Republican National Convention declared this election is not about the issues. The same candidate, who, on September 15th, the first time the Dow crashed, declared that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, the same candidate who on September 24th, pretended to suspend his campaign so he could return to Washington to deal with bailout negotiations.That same candidate now plans to ignore the economy entirely while attacking his opponent with every bit of sleaze that he can sling. Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: A top aide to Senator John McCain is telling the "New York Daily News," quote, "We have no choice. If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose." In other words- McCain first. Country? Not so much. The McCain-Palin campaign going all negative all the time in the wake of poll numbers that show support for the Republican ticket continuing to go all south all the time. Obama is leading 49-43 nationally in the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" Poll out this evening. Six in 10 of those voters surveyed are saying the economy is the key issue in this election. No other issue coming close. Senator Obama also seen as better able to improve the economy. That is with numbers like these the McCain campaign inclined to change the subject, turning to a self-described "hockey mom with the demeanor of a pit bull," vice presidential candidate Palin. On Saturday, the Alaska governor trotting the campaign's new yet old attack out, dipping from the shallow well of Senator Obama living in the same neighborhood and once having served on a charity board with William Ayers, a one-time Weather Underground figure

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: One of his earliest supporters is a man, who, according to the "New York Times" was a domestic terrorist and part of the group.

(CROWD BOOING)

PALIN: . part of the group that, quote, "launched the campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol." Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Governor Palin don't actually read the "New York times" article as she claimed she has, perhaps she would have learned that the newspaper reported of Senator Obama and Mr. Ayers, quote, "The two men did not appear to have been close nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers whom he has called as somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years when I was eight." As for attempts by the Democrat to call out his opponent on his smears and lies, Senator McCain lying about the lying while declaring Senator Obama guilty by location at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Let me reply, in the plainest terms that I know, I don't need lessons about telling the truth to the American people.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

MCCAIN: And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn't seek advice from a Chicago politician.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Ask almost anybody who helped you out, pal. As we mentioned, the McCain aide explaining to the "New York Daily News," quote, "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we are going to lose." Another is telling the "Washington Post," we are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis. The Dow Jones had other ideas, it lost another 370 points today. Nice job sticking the pages together. Senator Obama, meanwhile, reminding the unnamed aides today that most voters do not have the luxury of just moving on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got news for the McCain campaign-the American people are losing right now. They're losing their jobs. They're losing their healthcare. They're losing their homes. They're losing their savings. I cannot imagine anything more important to talk about than the economic crisis and the notion we would want to brush that aside and engage in the usual political shenanigans and smear tactics that have come to characterize too many political campaigns, I think, is not what the American people are looking for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And Senator Obama's campaign leading the last word on the McCain campaign's latest smear tactics and negative attack ads to Senator McCain, from a new Web ad from the Democratic Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN AD)

MCCAIN: I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later the people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads, you don't have much vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it.

CHYRON: John McCain: We can't afford more of the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: On that note, time now to call in our own Richard Wolffe, also, of course, senior White House correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.

Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: As we heard in the opening of the show, at the Palin rally today in Florida, Senator Obama referred during an introduction by a local sheriff, which is another story probably by itself, by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama. Governor Palin herself saying in addition to the Ayers charge that the heels are on and the gloves come off. And at a McCain rally, Senator McCain was asking, who is the real Barack Obama and a member of the crowd replying "terrorist." Whether by association, by location, by middle name, is there any doubt that the McCain campaign is making a coordinated attempt right now to paint Senator Obama as a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer?

WOLFFE: Well, first off, on middle names, John Sidney McCain III ought to know how awkward these middle names can be, especially when you're trying to connect to regular folks. But when it comes to terrorist and terrorist link-yes, they're obviously trying to make it explicit. They have done this before in terms of the McCain campaign. Just a few weeks ago, they suggested that Obama was Hamas' preferred candidate in this election. And that was a very explicit link and frankly, it didn't carry much traction there, either. And the problem now, at this late stage in the campaign is that voters have got their own impressions of who this Democratic candidate is. They've watched the debate. They've watched the conventions. Tens of millions of people have an impression of him, which is different from the sort of scary candidate caricature that McCain folks are trying to present. So, there's a dissonance there between what they are talking about and what people are seeing.

OLBERMANN: And speaking of dissonance, can a presidential campaign really declare and do so on the day when the Dow had at one point dropped 800 points, that it's just not going to discuss the economy anymore and have any credibility anymore? I mean, 12 days ago, this man pretended he was suspending his campaign because the economic crisis was so serious. Now, it's not going to come up for the next 29 days?

WOLFFE: Yes. Look, when 59 percent of the country says that the economy is the most important thing, you have to talk about the economy. The problem is that they had a big moment of opportunity, a big window to talk about the economy and they blew it on the gamble of suspending the campaign and trying to resolve the bailout discussions. When that didn't work, you've got try and get people's attention back to the economy, not unto another subject. And, you know, to be fair, McCain did talk about the economy today. He actually tried to suggest that Obama had suggested that subprime loans were a good idea; it was a snippet of a quote which didn't relate to what Obama was really talking about. But, you know, unless they make their attacks connect with the economy, none of this stuff is going to matter. They have to race questions about how Obama would handle the economy, not about who he befriended or didn't befriend many years ago in Chicago.

OLBERMANN: And about that, in addition to the DNC ad, the Obama campaign put out a 13-minute documentary on the Web that charges (ph) Senator McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal. And this is the part of this that I really don't understand from any angle. Whatever McCain can accuse Obama of, even with the thinnest of evidence, there seems to be something far worse and something also far more easily understood in the McCain closet. Why go there if going there is going to hurt you more than it's going to hurt the other guy?

WOLFFE: Well, I guess, one argument would be that they thought the Keating Five issue was somehow neutralized because McCain has spoken extensively about it, of course, he spoke extensively about it a long time ago. So, the Obama folks think there's a whole group of people who can be reeducated about the subject. But, you do raise an interesting question about thinking forward to the next step. We saw the same pattern with the whole pseudo-suspension of the campaign. If you think ahead, you recognize that you are going to end up owning the bailout problem, and they just thinking ahead of this stage.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of "Newsweek" and MSNBC, great thanks for your thinking ahead here.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Thus the inevitable conclusion from the quotes on the polls, McCain has decided he is not going to talk about the issue of the campaign.

Let's turn now to the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine, Chris Hayes.

Good evening, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Hey, Keith.

OLBERMANN: It was considered a very big deal last Friday when it became clear McCain essentially have dropped out of the battleground state of Michigan. What does it say when McCain essentially drops out of the battleground issue of the election?

HAYES: Well, one hesitates to use the phrase, "waving the white flag of surrender."

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: But, you know-I don't know what they are thinking. I mean, it's hard for me to tell whether these-all these sort of quotes that are coming from unnamed aides are people talking out of school or some nefarious kind of James Bond villain plan to sort of telegraph everything they are going to do before they do it. But, you know, I don't think that it makes a whole lot of sense to, (A), divert attention away from the things that people really care about, and they care about in a way that they haven't cared about a single issue in a long time actually. And, (B), to then tell everyone you are going to try to distract them. That seems like a bizarre political tactic.

OLBERMANN: Yes, and by the way, one thing about waving the white flag of surrender, if you're going to do it, you got to do the whole thing correctly which is-waving the white flag of surrender. Is there-to Richard Wolffe's point, about the idea that the strategy is being telegraphed.

HAYES: Yes.

OLBERMANN: Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing in the McCain campaign? Has it really gone off the tracks in terms of just procedure and organization?

HAYES: Yes, it does seem like it's gone off the tracks. I mean, there is a tried and true method of negative campaigning in which you do telegraph the attacks. And the reason you do that is you hope to have a kind of multiplier effect with the media, you know, the mainstream media picking up on these negative attacks and kind of sending them out into all sorts of all corners that wouldn't necessarily get it from the paid advertising you are doing. But again, at this point, it's happening so late. It's happening at such a transparently desperate way that it's hard for it to carry the kind of weight or strength that it would have under other conditions.

OLBERMANN: About Obama and his campaign, that documentary I mentioned on the Keating Five, some of the answers to the sleaze factor here. Does it dilute Obama's best window of the McCain? I mean, he can hit McCain on the economy endlessly and McCain essentially has given up, ceded the territory. Why change the topic even for a moment?

HAYES: Yes, it's a good question. I'm not completely sold that it's a smart tactical move. Although, I do think, from their perspective, what they are thinking, it's little like, you know, releasing slack into the air, to try to divert heat-seeking missile. I mean, they are essentially trying to sort of create a neutralizing effect in the news cycle vis-a-vis the attacks that they know are coming from McCain camp. They say, oh, you want to talk about this, let's talk about this, and hopefully, there's a sort of offsetting penalties-to mix metaphors-effect at the end of this and the candidate himself can continue to talk about the economy. The other thing is that the Keating Five, as you mentioned earlier, really relates directly to exactly the kind of crisis we are in, which was a housing bubble and financial implosion largely because of deregulation.

OLBERMANN: And corrupt politicians.

Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine-great thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Why is this happening? Well, it's easy. Your Electoral College scoreboard should show 52 more votes going to Obama in the last week, and for McCain-well, he's just watching. He didn't get any. And what does the new turn do to tomorrow night's debate? And also, there's nothing funnier-the old joke goes-than seeing the fisherman pulled into the water by the fish, the governor of Alaska, the self-described "pit bull with lipstick" tries to link the senator from Illinois to domestic terror and inappropriate pastors that manages only to sink her jaws into herself. Tonight, a Special Comment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: While the sleaze piles up, so too do the forecasts about the Electoral College votes. Even on the NBC News map, the change in the last week, Obama has added 52 votes and McCain has added - In Worst: Joe Lieberman commits with two more heavy breathers to explain why the far right really likes Governor Palin. And a Special Comment on the vice presidential candidate, who is herself palling around with a few domestic terrorists of her own. Ahead tonight on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANNN: The polite word is cautious. The in-house NBC and MSNBC electoral map is not a wild-eyed thing. It is beginning, however, to look very much like the wild-eyed things.

Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: In the last 10 days, the economy melted down and with it, did Senator McCain's hopes. Last Tuesday, our map showed Obama with was even then a significant edge over Senator McCain: Obama 212 to McCain 174. And while Senator McCain didn't technically lose any of the states he had a week ago, Obama picked up four of the battleground states, adding 52 electoral votes in one week, giving him 264 with McCain still on the 174. Those four critical states moving from toss-up to lean Obama, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. What's more-every single toss-up state on the NBC map voted for George Bush in 2004. A pleasure to welcome in person, Nate Silver, founder of Fivethirtyeight.com, the electoral vote-tracking Web site that uses polling data that has been crunched about 10,000 times to project real time election results. Good evening.

NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Good to see you in person.

All right. Two hundred sixty-four is not 270, obviously. Your Web site's own electoral map has Obama with about 340, McCain about 198. You have three toss ups left as the graph suggests here-Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina. NBC has seven toss-ups, Indiana, North Carolina, not Missouri, but also Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. Is NBC being conservative with the small "c," are you being too generous, what's the difference and why?

SILVER: I think you guys might be a little bit conservative on some of these states. Certainly a state like Virginia, where there have been multiple polls out showing, you know, not just a small lead for Obama but like, you know, a seven, eight, even a 12-point lead in one case. Florida, the depth for the polling there is very strong, you know, showing an Obama mid-single digit lead. You know, maybe not Ohio, Ohio, I think, is still a toss-up. These states along the east coast, you know, even North Carolina where we see the-you know, new voter registration really kicking in, a lot of people moving in who were from the east coast are Democrats down there. You know, Obama is getting those people to turn out. They registered 37,000 Democrats, you know, last week in North Carolina.

OLBERMANN: Wow.

SILVER: That's 1 percent of the electorate. So, you know, it's going up a little bit at a time every week and that, plus the economy, is a killer for McCain.

OLBERMANN: Well, but what can still change this? Is there any hope that this new, obviously, in some degree announced sludged strategy can do anything. I mean, could it take back Pennsylvania, for instance, because of the-and the region between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh?

SILVER: Well, if you look at the poll that is came out today, they began, some of them (ph) over the weekends, this was maybe the best polling day Obama's had all year.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

SILVER: It's not always a one-to-one correlation, there's a lot of noise. But, I think, you know, they're going to need the media's help. That's one thing as, you know, Chris Hayes was talking about. And if the media says this is old news-remember when Wright was brought (ph) during the primaries, there was actual news there, it might have been overplayed but it was a news story. You know, now, it's a standard kind of partisan attack. So, I think, they're going to have a difficult time getting traction.

But maybe it's the best thing they have left.

OLBERMANN: Obviously, it wasn't Wright. Ayers is already brought in to this. There's certain is there that this is not going to have sufficient traction for that reason that it's something new. They have to pull some sort of rabbit out of that hat in the last 29 days.

SILVER: Not certainty. I mean, you know, most races tighten a bit down the stretch. I don't think Obama is going to win by seven or eight points, although he could. But remember, think of all the "game changers," quote-unquote, to get Obama to where he is now. You have the economy like collapsed. You know, twice over McCain pulled a stunt on the bailout. You had Palin's image collapsed. You had Obama, you know, win or draw kind of both debates. That's like four or five major events. You know, so if you kind of have one, you know, sweep where you win a news cycle, you know, maybe that gets you two points, that's not really going to be that close.

OLBERMANN: And the words of all the pollsters and all the analysts of the pollsters have been pretty much the same. They've all seem to be synonyms for solidify in the last-I heard the map is hardening. I heard it's jelling, it's firming up. What the hell are you, guys, talking about? Is it, in fact, cement-setting?

SILVER: Well, that's part of it. There's so many states where Obama has a lead. I mean, again, in Virginia, these are seven or eight-point leads that he has.

OLBERMANN: Yes, that is extraordinary.

SILVER: Yes. I mean, even if McCain got it back to its high (ph), remember, the early voting helps Obama. He's locking votes in now when he is at a plus-six or plus-seven nationally. The current operation where 40 percent of Georgia's turn out so far, for example, is African-American. In 2004, it was 25 percent. So, they're getting their vote out already in these early-voting states, there have been lines at some precincts in Atlanta a month before the election. So, they're going to get their vote and makes it even harder for McCain to kind of catch up.

OLBERMANN: So, what-is there anything from the polling that suggest what McCain might actually do that would be useful to him, rather than self-destructive?

SILVER: You know, I don't know. They had made some traction with, I think, Catholic voters before in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Maybe talking, you know, with Sarah Palin, maybe some states where they kind of close a bit. I think Ohio might still be a tough state for Obama. But, you know, they are in trouble because Obama has a superior ground game and turnout operation.

OLBERMANN: Right.

SILVER: And the kind of any games that McCain makes, you know, they are pushing back, I think, just as hard.

OLBERMANN: Yes, it's an extraordinary thing to watch, especially from Democrats.

Nate Silver, the founder of Fivethirtyeight.com. Thanks for coming in, Nate.

SILVER: Of course, Keith. Thank you.

OLBERMANN: You know you're in trouble when on consecutive days you misquote a Starbucks coffee cup and you claim Afghanistan is one of our neighboring countries. Tonight's edition of McCain in the Membrane.

And how the new McCain all sleaze campaign might, in fact, tomorrow's second presidential debate-sorry, Senator McCain, I'm sorry. You can't bring that mud on stage with you.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN: On the landscape of tomorrow's second debate may have been changed by John McCain's decision to go sleazy. And how the life of the instrument of that sleaziness has just changed? Hasn't Sarah Palin just been palling around with at least one domestic terrorist of her own? Special Comment ahead. But first, the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, Senator McCain-McCain in the Membrane. Number three: John Dowd returns. The campaign today brought back the attorney who defended Senator McCain during the Keating Five scandal to try to reduce that epic collision between public and political greed as a smear job of the past on McCain. One small problem, in June of 2007, Dowd said, "It was a difficult thing to leave a friend," but he was endorsing Fred Thompson for president instead of McCain because, quote, "I'm very sorry to see what happened to John, we lost the John McCain I knew." Well, that went well. Number two: Stamped on the stump. Governor Palin is speaking in California. "I'm reading on my Starbucks mocha cup, OK." The quote of the day was Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and U.N. ambassador. Now, she said it, I didn't. She said, "There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't support other women."First of all, you go to Starbucks and you drink mochas. Isn't that a little elitist? Anyway, no, and the quote Ms. Albright said and so did the cup, "There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women." So, now we know, (A), the governor's reading skills are a little lacking, and, (B), one of her infinite number of daily news sources is her Starbucks cup. And number one: Then at a San Francisco fund-raiser, the governor rightly praised our troop in Afghanistan for trying to rebuild society there. And then made another whopper, quote, "They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan." Yes, you got your Mexico here, and Canada here, and your Afghanistan, that's not neighboring anywhere, or maybe she meant neighboring as in neighbor to Iraq. But, gosh, you got your Iraq here, and then your Iran here, and then your Afghanistan over here. Or maybe she meant neighbor country. Or maybe she meant "like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Tomorrow night's presidential debate in Nashville will certainly make history for at least one reason. No, not because even John McCain has decided to show up and not make up some sort of story about not showing up, but because, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, McCain will be aiming his remarks at the smallest demographic in debate history. One person, the one remaining undecided voter who has never gotten an anti-Obama e-mail and has never heard of Reverend Wright, and also who lives in one of the dwindling number of supposed swing states. Although, this will be the second debate for McCain and Obama, McCain's new tactic, mud slinging, appears to have been born out of ignorance, ignorance of the fact that Obama has already debated these issues, let America hear his response in nationally televised debates already against his primary challenger, Hillary Clinton, who tried and failed in the desperation of her final days to defeat Obama using exactly the tactics to which Senator McCain has turned. Let's bring in Clarence Page, nationally syndicated columnist for the "Chicago Tribune." Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

CLARENCE PAGE, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Thank you for inviting me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: They go to this town hall format tomorrow. What happens to McCain if nobody at the town hall brings up Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright? Does he bring them up himself and does he look desperate if he brings them up himself?

PAGE: Well, he might just do like Sarah Palin and say, I'm not going to answer those questions from you and the mainstream media, and just speak directly to the American people. Barack Obama is a jerk. I can just see it now.

OLBERMANN: But did he not box himself in, McCain that is? He said in April, America has already rejected this kind of campaigning, rejected it. They don't want it. Now, his running mate is certainly eye brows deep in this, and the campaign has leaked that they have to change the discussion from the economy or they're going to lose. There's no way out, is there?

PAGE: Well, they're really in quite a box, I think, that really began it's hard to say exactly when it began. There's no question that this issue-Jeremiah Wright issue has been debated and re-debated. But ever since John McCain brought Rick Davis on to run his campaign, you've seen these negative ads. You've seen a negative campaign. And you've seen a lot of preaching to the converted. Conservatives love to hear about Jeremiah Wright again and again and Bill Ayers, et cetera. But independent voters have shown that they want to see less fighting and more problem solving, especially with the economy right now. So I don't see that they're going to get a lot of mileage by bringing this up again, especially now four weeks away from election day. Usually, this is that kind of late quarter rough housing you see in the last couple of weeks.

OLBERMANN: The town hall idea, again, obviously, it's a much looser format. Question number one about it is, does it now require John McCain to look at Obama at least once during the course of this debate?

PAGE: One would think so. I'd love to see them move these guys closer together and force them to look at each other. Actually, John McCain got so much negative reaction from not looking at Obama in the first debate that I think-I expect him to try to make more of an effort this time. That kind of stage theater- One thing about Sarah Palin, she understands what these debates are about. They're not really debates. They're a TV show. She played it that way, staring straight at that camera and smiling and winking and all those all the talk about what we're going to do and all that you betcha. I don't expect John McCain to try to be that cute, but I expect him to try to be at least a little warmer.

OLBERMANN: If he comes out wearing glasses and his hair up, I know he's taken it too far. Does this format give, almost demand some kind of confrontation? It's not like we're looking at a prize fight here, but one would think Obama would want to call McCain on this sleaze factor, and one would think that if McCain is committed to this, he'd want to confront Obama on his supposed transgressions. Is this almost inevitable going into tomorrow?

PAGE: I think it shows something of a desperation by the McCain campaign, though, because they know how tricky this sort of negative campaigning is. It goes against what John McCain said he wanted at the very beginning of the campaign. And also you see how quickly the Obama campaign came out with this 15 minute documentary on the web. Obviously, they didn't make that Saturday night. That's been sitting there in the closet. Who knows what else is sitting there in the closet. All of these tactics are so predictable that it's rather disappointing that the McCain campaign finds it necessary to go this route, because it is so predictably the kind of move people make who don't seem to have anything else up their sleeve. So we'll see.

OLBERMANN: As you say, go to it so early, relatively speaking. What do they have next? Is it back to the old one about vote Democratic and you'll die? Is that the only thing they have left in the bag?

PAGE: Maybe that will be some kind of a medical report or something they'll come out with. They've used Bill Ayers this week, and maybe next we'll see Jeremiah Wright again. What else is left? Oh, yes, evidence that Barack Obama really is a Muslim. Maybe they'll come out with something of this nature. I don't know. It seems rather absurd. But it does seem very predictable that these kind of attacks would come up. I suspect the Obama campaign, back in their closet, has some more not just about the Keating five, but about a fund-raiser that Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame held for Obama, that sort of thing. It's all guilt by association and the kind of tit for tat that turns off a lot of swing voters.

OLBERMANN: Indeed. Clarence Page of the "Chicago Tribune" and a quality newspaper near you. Great thanks for your time tonight, Clarence.

PAGE: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: A reminder, we'll have the final COUNTDOWN to the debate tomorrow night 8:00 eastern, and then afterward a special hour of COUNTDOWN, analyzing it all. That begins at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Wow, did the Republicans send the wrong sleaze meister out into this battle. How Governor Palin's own husband has been palling around with a group founded by a man who said "I have no use for America or her damned institutions." How she received the laying on the hands by a pastor who helped her become a governor, but declared another woman a witch. My special comment ahead. And the McCain adviser who said the fact that the senator used to date this woman makes McCain a foreign affairs expert. Worst persons next. You're watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

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OLBERMANN: Special comment. How hockey moms living in glass rinks shouldn't be throwing stones. That's ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst person in the world. The bronze to Minneapolis radio yackers Chris Baker and Langdon Perry (ph), joining the list of right wing guys who could not keep the secret about why they really support Governor Palin. Perry says, "she's got a nice smile. She seems likable." Baker replies "Hot." Later Perry, "so did you notice her high heels last night, because I think she was going all business upstairs, and then she just went with the high heels for a little whoa, hey." To which Baker says, "she's always wearing some ahem pumps, if you catch my drift." And then he adds, "I think she should have a little cleavage going there." And then he adds "I noticed a panty line on her." Put the sexism and the revelation of why conservatives are glad Palin was chosen aside for a moment. If Rich Lowry of the "National Review" ever finds out these guys are lusting after his fantasy woman, he's going to beat the crap out of them. You heard about Lowry? A quick refresher, "I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, hey I think she just winked at me. And her smile, by the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling. It was almost mesmerizing. It sent little star bursts through the screen ricocheting around the living rooms of America." The runner-up to Richard Fontaine (ph), McCain senior foreign policy adviser, speaking at a panel discussion at the Americas Conference in Miami. He cited as foreign policy in Latin America for the senator his affair with Brazilian model Maria Gracinia Techera de Jesus (ph) in 1957. Quote, "I saw, I guess it was last week, that his old girlfriend from Brazil has been found from his early days when he was in the Navy and was interviewed. She's a somewhat older woman now than she was then, but it sort of speaks to the long experience he's had in the region in the most positive terms." Long experience, you say. Well, that explains why all the conservatives are treating Governor Palin like she had just been added to the ticket as vice president and pinup model. Sexists. Our winner, Senator Joe Lieberman. On Fixed News yesterday, he was asked if John McCain would bring Jeremiah Wright into the campaign. His answer, "McCain didn't like that approach. Senator McCain feels the same way about bringing Reverend Wright into his campaign. And that's the kind of line drawing I think John McCain's all about." Sarah Palin's answer to Bill Kristol's question in the "New York Times" today, "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more." Appalling things, sense of condoning it, something about character. Senator Lieberman, Governor Palin and Senator McCain just brought up Wright in this campaign and they erased the line you're so proud of. Welcome to the club, senator. Now Mr McCain has even hung you out to dry. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, today's worst person in the world.

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OLBERMANN: And finally tonight, as promised, a special comment about the campaign remarks made this weekend and today by the governor of Alaska. Last Wednesday, Sheriff's deputies arrived at the home of a woman in Akron, Ohio named Addie Polk, in order to evict her. After 38 years in that house, Ms. Polk had fallen behind on paying the mortgage. It was so bad that the company that held that mortgage, Fannie Mae, had foreclosed. In fact, it was far worse than anybody knew. Addie Polk couldn't bear it any more. So, rather than be evicted, she shot herself in the chest. Evidently she will survive. And, after Congressman Dennis Kucinich brought her plight to the floor of the House, Fannie Mae, that mortgage giant you and I and all the rest of us pretty much own now, agreed it would forgive Addie Polk's debt and, when she gets out of the hospital, let her go back and live in her home again. That this is already a Gothic horror story, you'll agree. But I left out one detail. Addie Polk is 90 years old. In the self-pronounced area of expertise of the Governor of Alaska, energy, the real experts of both parties are at a loss to figure out any way, even 'drill, baby, drill,' that might actually lower gas prices before 2018. We are at war in two countries and a lame duck President with no reason to check his own imbalance still has dreams of one more. And a 90-year-old woman, trapped in the middle of a financial meltdown, shoots herself, and she's still in better shape than the economy. Yet, the Governor of Alaska wants to talk about somebody Barack Obama doesn't know very well, and what this somebody Barack Obama doesn't know very well did, during the year Obama was eight and the year the Governor of Alaska was in pre-Kindergarten. And she wants to talk about Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And she doesn't object to being introduced with a reference to Barack Obama's middle name. Well, this is my suggestion. In much the same way we, America, in the corporate persona of Fannie Mae, have forgiven poor Addie Polk of Akron, Ohio, we, America, also need to forgive poor Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska. They are both in situations that are beyond their ability to cope. They are both stuck in a crucible caused by forces they cannot comprehend. They are both unable to understand what they are doing. After stumbling through a clumsier version of it at Englewood, Colorado, the Governor of Alaska said Saturday at Carson, California: "Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country." She later defended the remark by adding this was an "association that has been known but hasn't been talked about." Governor, conservative groups have thus far spent ten million dollars this year trying to make something, anything, out of the brief interaction on a charity board between Sen. Obama and a rehabilitated former domestic radical from the '60s. And not even Conservatives have been stupid enough to buy the snake oil that this was either a close relationship or a nefarious one. But of course, you know better, Governor. You're smarter than the rest of us. A reporter asks you a horrible gotcha question like: which newspapers do you read, and it takes you four days to come up with an answer, and somehow it's the reporter's fault. The reporter then asks you to name one Supreme Court ruling with which you disagree other than Roe vs. Wade, and even though you'd commented on just such a case from Alaska, no less, not three months ago, your eyes turn into a big neon sign reading "Vacancy" and you insist it's because that evil media asked the wrong question. So you're the genius Governor, and it's your supporters and the undecided voters who are the dopes who are now going to believe the same Mickey-Mouse crap that Sen. Clinton couldn't get to stick, and Sean Hannity couldn't get to stick, just because it's you adding that word "terrorist" and that phrase "palling around" and dropping the "G" in palling. And of course, Governor, those same dopes, and we the media morons, we are not smart enough to ask about that pesky Alaskan Independence Party, and why you recorded a speech for its convention last March, and why your husband remained a registered member of it until 2002, even though it was founded by a man named Joe Vogler who wanted Alaska to secede from the United States. Secede, the way the South seceded precipitating the Civil War. This is same Joe Vogler who once said: "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government, and I won't be buried under their damn flag." And who also said: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." Shoot, Governor, them's strong words, hah? Did he wink as he said 'em? You betcha! So, where does Joe Vogler rank on the scales of "terrorists who would target their own country?" Your opponent's guy, Ayers, wound up on a volunteer anti-poverty committee in Chicago. But your guy, Vogler, wound up founding a group that wanted to rip one of the stars off the American flag! Well, OK, Governor, Vogler's more your husband's guy. So it's your husband who's been "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. "But I'm assuming you've been "palling around" with your husband. But, gee willikers, Governor, you know what's best. You're not one of these Washington insiders who would notice that though that's a straight line connecting you, your husband, and this Alaskan secessionist, you're standing under a banner with the campaign slogan "Country First." And if somebody out there puts two and two together they might just ask, "which Country do you mean? The Country of Alaska?" "The heels are on," you said with another smile. "The gloves are off." Well, if you're telling William Kristol you want to talk about Jeremiah Wright, for sure! So, Governor you don't mind addressing whether this Pastor Muthee is a terrorist? Do you? We've told you before about Pastor Thomas Muthee. He's the preacher who visited the Wasilla Assembly of God church a couple of times while the Governor was there, ironically enough, just about as many times as Bill Ayers has met Barack Obama. And, see, there was this one time where Pastor Muthee actually laid hands on the Governor. And I'm sure that sounds like just some crazy anecdote, except there's videotape. And of course the Governor talked about this moment, the laying on of hands, just last summer. It was in October, 2005, as the video indicates, when Muthee put his hands on Sarah Palin's back and says, "make a way for Sarah, even in the political arena. Make a way, my God. Bring finances her way, even for the campaign in the name of Jesus."Every form of witchcraft, it will be rebuked in the name of Jesus. Father, make her way now." And the Governor said that "bold" approach of Pastor Muthee was one of the reasons she became Governor, and she gives him just oodles of credit for puttin' her on the path. The problem for the governor is that in 1999 the "Christian Science Monitor" newspaper reported that Pastor Muthee had gotten his start a decade earlier in Kenya, in the Nairobi suburb of Kiambu. Kiambu was crime-ridden. So this character Muthee shows up, and announces it was the fault of the woman in town who he had decided was a witch. And Muthee gave the witch a choice: either be saved, or get out of town. And the woman initially chose none of the above, but this became less than a viable option when Muthee got 200 of the townspeople together and they decided, heck, you know, Muthee's right. She probably is a witch. And the next thing you know, the police are raiding her house and reportedly shooting her snake, because if she was a witch, the snake had to be a demon. And then the woman left town and everybody said crime went down, and most of the bars closed and this is not only how Pastor Muthee got started, but he's proud of it and he tells the story in his testimonial videotapes. And people in that church in Wasilla, where he laid hands on the Governor, knew all about it. And they think it was just a Joe-Six-Pack, Hockey Mom kind of thing to do, to let a guy who branded some woman in Kenya a witch demand that God make some different woman the Governor of Alaska! Governor, what would you call someone who arrives in a suburb, blames one resident for the local crime, organizes a mob to threaten the woman, convinces the authorities to go and raid her home, and then chases her out of the suburb? Come on, Governor, just give us one answer that has something to do with the question you were just asked. That's right you'd call him a terrorist. And since it was in his own country, that would make him? Yes, very good, a domestic terrorist. So, Governor, you've been "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." Say it ain't so, Gov! Say it ain't so! Of course it is. The Governor of Alaska ignores Addie Polk and the American tragedy that is a 90-year old woman shooting herself out of shame and panic and who knows what else over the mortgage! Instead the Governor of Alaska wants to start calling people terrorists and insisting of Sen. Obama that quote "this is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," and whose rhetoric like that, and the "palling around with terrorists" line were rightly described by the Associated Press yesterday as a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing kind of way of slipping racism into the equation, because it's a nifty trick to remind the white folk that, psst, Obama is black. But overriding this sleaziness, and dog-gone it, the Governor of Alaska has got to be the sleaziest politician working the stage at the moment, there is the sheer blessed stupidity of letting herself become the bomb-thrower when her own life is full of domestic terrorists. Governor? Bill Ayers? Your hubby was in this secessionist hate group for which you recorded a video this year. Governor? Jeremiah Wright? That pastor you credit with helping you become Governor is either a con man or a psycho who believes he can tell which woman in the village is the witch, and which woman is the governor. And Governor, there's also "The U.S. Council on World Freedom." You should ask Sen. McCain about that outfit and why he had to scat away from it 22 years ago. Or, ask the senator why yesterday his own brother Joe McCain referred to Northern Virginia as quote "communist country." Or you could ask him about Pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley. Or about why Sen. McCain said introducing Jeremiah Wright into this campaign, "there's no place for that kind of campaigning, the American people don't want it, period."Or don't ask. You know best. You're the one selling the patent medicine. Those of us out here, we're just the suckers pulling out our greenbacks. Go on talking about this man Ayers and trying to link Obama to that word "terrorist." But be prepared for others to ask you about your pastor and terrorism and for still others to ask you about the First Dude and terrorism. But not me, Governor. I forgive you. You are about as guilty here as poor Ms. Addie Polk in Akron. And I hope that after what you've done to yourself, you recover as well as she seems to be doing, and that you too get to go back and live in your own home again. Because if you think the terrorism con, and the racism sting are going to do anything but bury you and Sen, McCain, you need to pick up one of those how-many-ever newspapers you read-what was it, infinity-and check the headlines to find out what people are really worried about right now. Otherwise, when you said "the heels are on, the gloves are off," you got as close to telling the truth as you've ever gotten, and without really knowing it. Because, for you and Sen. McCain, Governor Palin, it's not the gloves that just came off. Obviously, it's the wheels. That's COUNTDOWN for this the 1,986th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.

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